By Angie H. Crutchley –
Twenty years ago this Saturday, the U.S. was attacked by a foreign adversary. Thousands of American lives were lost, many first responders. Adam James was in David Sabatino’s architectural drawing class when the first plane hit. Another teacher came in to tell the students to turn on the television. Also in class that day was Tyler Fincen. She learned about most of the events when she got home from school.
The events of that day hit close to home for James. “I am a fourth generation firefighter at the Onancock Volunteer Fire Department,” said James, who is the current fire chief. “The brotherhood that is the fire service spans over generations and our department is no different.”
James and Fincen have a traditional Eastern Shore love story.
“Adam and I were on and off for years before we finally got it right,” said Fincen.
“Tyler and I met the typical Eastern Shore way,” said James. “We saw each other out and about in different settings and just got to know each other through talking and spending more time around each other.”
Last year during the COVID-19 pandemic, the couple welcomed a little girl, Parker. Kennedy, James’s daughter from his first marriage and a second grader at Broadwater Academy, was so excited to become a big sister. And this Saturday, Sept. 11, on the 20th anniversary of attacks on our country, the sisters will be flower girls as James and Fincen will gather with family, friends, and a whole lot of firefighters to join in holy matrimony. There could be no more of a fitting date for this fire chief and his lady to wed and share their love with the world. After all, nothing says “you didn’t beat us” than a gathering of people from different families, races, and political affiliations joining together in a celebration of love.
“When we tell folks our wedding date, some give you the blank stare but the moment we tell them I’m a fireman, everyone gets it. That’s what 9/11 should be about: remembering those who gave their lives saving others. From the 343 firefighters to the police to the military and anyone else on the front line, 9/11 is a memorial of heroes. It was a tragic day in the history of our country, however, the amount of Stars and Stripes that were flying after the attack shows what this country and its Americans are all about,” said James.
And red, white, and blue will have a place in the wedding this Saturday. The groomsmen will be wearing Stars and Stripes socks and wristbands and the inside of the groom’s custom jacket and vest features the American flag.
“My suit takes the mantra of a mullet: business on the outside, party on the inside, except this party is for the USA,” said James.
Fincen supports all of the patriotic apparel, as she spends many nights concerned for her man as he goes on late-night fire calls.
“It’s tough watching your partner leave in the middle of the night for a fire or an accident, not knowing what could happen,” said Fincen. “All you really know is you pray to God on every call and hope he comes home.”
The girls may follow in the firefighting tradition. Kennedy has shown interest in what her daddy and granddaddy do. She has asked to go on calls. Parker is a little too young, but she has shown interest in the bright, red lights of the firetruck.
This Saturday, as the country reflects, remembers, and mourns the heroes from two decades ago, two Onancock residents, who were just kids when the world changed, will stand together and get married and bring joy and love on a day that was intended by terrorists to bring nothing but destruction – reminding us that the best part of our country will always be overcoming adversity and coming together, hand in hand, in love.